Featured Article:

Life Is a Series of Tradeoffs

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the maxim “you can’t have it all.” Life lessons prove the truth of it but our culture—and reality TV in particular—suggests that you can have it all. This attitude is often carried into the workplace and can be challenging for both coworkers and management. Managing expectations by pointing out necessary tradeoffs is one of the most productive things a manager can do.

Your “to do” list is never going to end. The real purpose of keeping one isn’t to complete all the tasks; it’s to identify what tradeoffs you’ll have to make each day. Helping your high achiever direct reports understand that will save both of you a lot of angst.

Not even the most productive perfectionist can give 110% to absolutely every project that comes their way. They’ll burn out, their work quality and production will suffer, and their staff/coworkers probably will find them challenging to deal with. Why? Not because they’re perfectionists but because they didn’t prioritize and determine the tradeoffs that were necessary for them to achieve “perfection” on the projects that really matter.

And we’ve all seen the mental gyrations parents go through while trying to balance work and home. Shonda Rhimes, best known as the writer and producer of several hit TV shows, said, “If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson….That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother.”

Notice that the tradeoffs she mentions doesn’t mean she’s not able to achieve her goal of being a “powerful working woman…powerful mother.” She understands that if someone is successful in one area of their lives, that almost certainly means that they are “failing” in another. That is normal and should be expected.

When people are struggling to make tradeoffs, remind them of their ultimate goals, what success looks like for them, and the connection between the two. To quote Ms. Rhimes, “…because I get to spend my days making things up, that woman is a better person—and a better mother. Because that woman is happy. That woman is fulfilled. That woman is whole. I wouldn’t want them [her children] to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who wasn’t doing. My dreams did not come true. But I worked really hard. And I ended up building an empire out of my imagination.”

You are welcome to reprint this article as long as you include the following in its entirety: Reprinted from "Our Corporate Life®," a biweekly ezine featuring practical tips and tools for navigating the corporate world. © MMXVII Our Corporate Life LLC All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at www.ourcorporatelife.com/subscribe

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

Corporate Driver: Perspective

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Our Bootcamp is designed to get you back to feeling like yourself fast. To avoid overwhelm, we cover critical topics sequentially so you can make small changes quickly and experience immediate results.

1. New Beginnings

We start by creating a clear picture of your desired outcome and showing how feeling stuck can benefit you. You’ll also learn how to increase your physical and mental energy and a quick (less than 5 minutes!), easy way to improve your mood.

2. Setting Yourself Up For Success

It’s easier to succeed when your environment completely supports you. You’ll learn how to easily analyze yours and bring it into alignment. We’ll also cover techniques for viewing your work situation in a neutral, productive way–allowing you to move within it effortlessly.

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Values impact your behaviors, decisions, relationships and direction in life. Yet your values are often not aligned with your workplace. Standards are what we honor because we believe they will lead us to our goals. Logically you’d think high standards would result in a superior result but just the opposite often occurs. In this session we’ll cover how to maintain your standards when they’re not shared and how to stay true to yourself without making it an issue for others.

4. How Your Best Intentions Work Against You

If you’re like most achievers, you welcome and thrive on responsibility. Sometimes, however, your life can feel like one long “to do” list leaving little time to figure out what is working – or not – in your life. We’ll cover how to retrain your teammates, how to redefine your role and the concept of “responsibility without authority” – having one without the other makes success impossible.

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Understanding how personal beliefs drive behavior is critical to freeing you from feeling trapped. This is a deeply personal and important aspect necessary to move into action. You’ll learn how to uncover the core belief that is out of alignment and the 5 step process you can use to replace it.

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Control is like catnip to high achievers – we all want it. But surprisingly few exercise control in the one area where they actually have it. This cycle of relentlessly trying to get control over an uncontrollable situation is exhausting and self–defeating. Resetting expectations so you can focus on fulfilling activities will provide the energy you need to regain your perspective and take action.

7. Setting Boundaries

If you’re surrounded by those who constantly violate your boundaries it will create conflict, drama and drain your energy. When you set and maintain appropriate boundaries you will experience an almost immediate reduction of stress. We will review the 5–step boundary setting process; discuss how to hold the line without alienating others or compromising your standards, and the implications of not being able to say “no”.

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